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Fire Aid – the new non-profit alliance to promote sustainable fire service aid all over the world
Published:  26 November, 2014

Fire Aid is a new organisation in the fire and rescue community. It is an alliance of UK non-profit organisations and services, with a mutual interest in providing ethical and sustainable  projects and donations of fire and rescue aid and training, to those in need of such assistance, writes Alf Wilson, Fire Aid Steering Group Member.

Fire Aid was formed in 2012 by a group of like-minded non-profit organisations and services, who have been operating for many years, successfully donating equipment, training and expertise to over 30 countries.

The Fire Aid Patron is the Rt Hon the Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, KTGCMGFRSAFRSEPC, who was tenth Secretary General of NATO. The alliance is chaired by Jim Fitzpatrick MP, former UK Fire Service Minister and it is managed by a steering committee of its founding members, while it has the support of members of the Fire & Rescue All Party Parliamentary Group, CFOA (Chief Fire Officers Association) and DfID. Among other areas of work, Fire Aid provides guidance for donation projects, manages an equipment database, and provides a forum for discussion of issues relevant to Fire Aid.

By kind permission of the Lord Speaker, Fire Aid hosted its launch event at the River Room, in the House of Lords on 5th June 2014. The reception, which was attended to full capacity, was hosted by Lord Dubs of Battersea and included representatives from political, diplomatic, fire and rescue, humanitarian aid and international spheres as well as Fire Aid’s founding members. Guests included Gus Schaefer and Judith Stone of the Board of Trustees of Underwriters Laboratories - who work to advance fire safety technology and procedures -  and who travelled from the USA to attend the event.

The Fire Aid mission is to promote sustainable, targeted and effective fire and rescue humanitarian aid, to gain public recognition for the work being done, both within the UK and internationally, to work together on joint projects, share experience and provide a forum for discussion, to act as a communications hub between member organisations, to provide guidance and support, and promote best practice in sustainable humanitarian projects.

The Fire Aid steering committee members are mainly representatives from the founding organisations: Bangladesh/England Safety and Fire Education (BESAFE), Blythswood care, EASST, Fire Safety Friends of Russia, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Operation Florian, Staffordshire Emergency Services Humanitarian Aid Association, UK Rescue Organisation, and the World Rescue Organisation. Recent steering committee members are representatives from AFSA (Asian Fire Service Association) and CFOA.

Fire Aid is in the process of registering as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation to: enable fundraising for projects and development, help build membership, including international members and assist in promoting best practice in projects.

Fire Aid supports the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety and Hyogo Framework for Action for building disaster resilience. Fire Aid members work helps to save lives in countries facing the greatest challenges.

The number of global road deaths, according to World Health Organisation figures in 2004, counted up nearly 1.3 million in total, with 20-50 million injured. In the ranking of global causes of death, road traffic injuries, ranked 9th, it is projected that by 2030 road traffic injuries will rank 5th in the global causes of death. It is a fact that 90% of road deaths and injuries occur in low- and middle-income countries that have only 48% of the world's registered vehicles.Typical losses in developing countries are 1-3% GDP – more than many receive in aid, eg each year 100,000 die on India’s roads, and 2 million people are living with a disability caused by road injury.

Many countries suffer from poor provision of equipment, poor training in rescue and    extraction techniques, weak institutions and local capacity, a lack of coordinated response to rescue the result often in a high number of fatalities at the crash scene.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 5.8 million people die each year from violent injury, about one in four of these deaths is a road death, About one in seventy are deaths due to fire, 95% of fire deaths are in low- to middle-income countries and fires are in the top 15 causes of death for children.

The Hyogo Framework for Action aims to build up disaster resilience for nations and their communities. The strategic goals of this framework consist of the integration of disaster risk reduction into sustainable development policies, development and strengthening of institutions, mechanisms and capacities to build resilience to hazards. The systematic incorporation of risk reduction approaches into emergency preparedness, response and recovery programmes.

The priorities for action consist of the identifying and monitoring of risks, ensuring risk reduction is a national priority, building a culture of safety and resilience at all levels and strengthen disaster preparedness.

Fire Aid members are undertaking scoping visits to assess need and are working with rescue services to build capacity, and they will be supplying equipment for emergency response, training, educating and training services in multi-agency approaches, and they will also be involved in community engagement and education, as well as helping to build political will.

A key objective of Fire Aid is to provide a model for ethical and sustainable donations. Fire Aid members have access to an Aid and International Development Handbook with guidance and advice on: project preparation, funding, roles and responsibilities, communication, risk assessment, project delivery, sustainability and evaluation.The handbook conforms to European Commission (EC) Regulation 1257/96 governing humanitarian aid overseas. Fire Aid has its own Anti-bribery and Corruption and Ethical Donations policies for all members.

The Fire Aid website www.fire-aid.org has a number of areas of interest, including committee members pictures, an active projects map, a list of member non-profit organisations and services, project overviews, project successes and failures, project documentation, anti-bribery and corruption policy, project plan, business plan, sustainability documents, and an executive summary of the aid handbook. Joining as a member will provide full access to this document.

There is also a database for appliances and equipment donations and availability, and only members have access to the database. There are a number of categories of membership that can be offered: Fire Aid member, associate member, affiliate member, honorary member – all of which a full description can be found on the website.

Membership of Fire Aid is currently free and open to UK-registered charities and non-profits with the benefits listed below:

Professional recognition: Once you have demonstrated that your non-profit organisation or service has the required qualifications, you may join Fire Aid and add the name and logo to your organisations or services CV and business card. Membership demonstrates that you have reached a certain level of expertise in your field, and provides more collaborative opportunities and adds to your credibility.

Fulfilling corporate and social responsibility: Short-term costs that do not provide an immediate financial benefit to the service but instead promote positive social and environmental change, eg the re-use of redundant appliances and equipment to areas of the world in need.

Information and advice: Fire Aid has a website that offers member’s password protected access to projects, the Aid Handbook, news reports, updates, information, vehicles, equipment, and details of events.

Networking opportunities: Fire Aid can be useful for making new contacts and learning more about what’s happening in the aid sector. UK exposure and conferences also offer excellent networking and project collaboration opportunities

Career development: Continuous professional development (CPD) is essential if you want to forge a successful career. Some Fire Aid  projects will offer personal development opportunities, which gives added professional credibility.

For people who are interested in joining Fire Aid, please visit www.fire-aid.org